Social workers fired for not protecting baby girl

Two social workers have been sacked for ignoring warnings about a father who went on to attack his baby.

The Leicestershire County Council staff were suspended last year after a serious case review examined why Zak Whitlock was allowed to return to the family home, in Wigston, despite having a history of drug abuse and domestic violence.

Whitlock, 21, was left alone with his daughter, known as Baby B, despite warnings that he could harm her.

He went on to smash the seven-week-old’s skull, leaving her permanently brain damaged and with a severely mis-shapen head.

Whitlock was jailed for a minimum of four-and-a-half years in February last year after being convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent.

This week, two of the staff were fired for gross misconduct.

A third, who was also suspended last year, was given a formal warning.

MP Edward Garnier, who represents Wigston, said: “This is not a day for rejoicing, but for making sure that systems and people are in place to prevent this ever happening again.

“Clearly, this poor child will never fully recover from her injuries and her father must bear full responsibility for that.

“But unquestionably the people who should have provided her with necessary protection let her down and have had to pay the professional consequences.

“I welcome the firm action taken by the county council in respect of the three social workers.”

A serious case review published last summer unearthed a series of blunders by council staff.

This month, individual panels of senior council officers considered the cases against each of the three suspended staff over several days.

The decision was taken to dismiss two staff members, although both have a right of appeal.

All had been suspended on full pay for a year.

One of the three suspended staff was a manager. The council refused to say whether that person was sacked or warned.

Lib Dem opposition leader Simon Galton said: “There has been a lot of criticism over how long this has taken to resolve, and I’ve asked many questions on this subject.

“However, I do believe the council has been meticulous and thorough in its investigation and I think the public can be confident in the findings.

“I’m happy that this has now been resolved and we can look to filling the two vacancies.”

The social services department, which has 86 social workers dealing with 350 children, was restructured following last year’s review.

A county council spokesman said: “Protecting vulnerable children is an important priority for the council and from the outset, we have stressed how sorry we are that this child suffered such serious injuries.

“These staffing matters are confidential employment issues and, therefore, the council cannot comment upon the detail.

However, we can confirm that, as part of the council’s formal disciplinary process, we have dismissed two employees and issued a formal warning to one member of staff.

“The decisions are still subject to legal processes, and so we cannot comment further.”